Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Sun and Smiles at the 2013 Presidio 10-Miler

It was a beautiful San Francisco day last Sunday when I joined 3,000+ runners for the annual Presidio 10-Miler. This was my third running of this hilly and fast 10-mile (or 10k/5k) put on by The Guardsmen, and it was once again the Road Runners Clubs of America (RRCA) 10-mile National Championship. It would take a lot of sun and smiles to brighten up a week that began with the tragic bombings at the Boston Marathon, but thanks to great race directing, volunteering, ideal weather, and the solidarity of our fellow runners, our souls were alight with a healing warmth brought by a perfect day of running.

As soon as I arrived, I spotted the lean physique of last years winner, San Diego's Leon Medina, warming up along Crissy Field and joined him for a few warm up strides. We both commented on the clear skies and near-70 degree weather...despite being April, this race was going to be hot! Leon's heavy class load at HSU still left room for training, and this was his final fast tune up before a big half marathon in a few weeks. Given his fitness level and raw speed, he was definitely the man to beat today. The Women's race had at least five great runners to keep the mix alive, including defending champion and Chico speedster Sarah Hallas, SF runner Michelle Meyer (fresh off a 2:43 finish at the Napa Marathon), and the ridiculously fit and fast Verity Breen who is always in contention. It would all come down to who was ready for the sharp and steep hills around the Presidio, and who left enough for the two mile bayside sprint at the end.
(What a day! Click on any picture to see it in BIG format)
There was a lot of blue and gold in the starting corral as runners donned Boston Marathon finisher shirts going back as far as '78. Friendly hugs lasted a few extra seconds, always ending in smiles and an unspoken gratitude to be here and healthy. It was stunning to realize how broadly and deeply the Boston bombings affected everyone; Boston is a part of every runner in one way or another. But this is how we show our solidarity...we move on, we celebrate the day together, we send our prayers to those still healing. The RD's brought one of the original founders of the Presidio 10 on stage, who did an amazing job reminding us what our national anthem means and how it is one of the few anthems that asks a question...will that Star Spangled Banner yet wave? It is a sign of our strength to move on, to overcome. I couldn't help but tear up thinking about that.

(Understanding the Star-Spangled Banner, while new mascot Guard Dog pumps up the crowd)
With a minute to go, I reached to set a watch that wasn't there (best to go by feel this soon after my PR at Boston) and laughed that my emotional state remains near-chaotic and changing every 10-15 seconds. I haven't gotten a lot of sleep this week, and as any new parent or mild PTSD patient can attest, mood swings in this state can rival a bipolar caffeine-addict going through menopause. I thought I had it under control when the ringing in my head finally subsided, but at a job interview late last week I answered the question, "how do you think mobile and tablets will shape the magazine industry" with "your industry won't exist in six years, but not because of mobile; it will be because of pussies like you who are afraid to do anything about it except hire a new executive to take the blame for questions you can't answer, while you collect your bonuses and lie yourself to sleep every night grasping for any form of professional relevance. Sorry, time is too previous to say anything but the truth, as dark and consuming as it might be. And it could be I have some unresolved emotions from Boston. Maybe. I mean, it's possible.". Um, yeah. Haven't got a callback on that one yet. ;-P

But as the RD called out "5,4,3,2,1...", my head and heart calmed for the task at hand. Ah, the cleanse of purpose, especially a speedy romp through the Presidio! It felt awesome. The gun released us all, physically and figuratively.
(The back of Leon's head...I see it a lot!)
(Verity Breen [red] and Michelle Meyer [blue] side-by-side in the first mile)
Leon took it out fast (can he even go slow?), and began navigating some of the course changes required this year due to trail erosion. The hills were easier to tackle thanks to more flat sections between each climb, but I feared my trail advantage in years past would be lost now that it's all roads and bike paths. I settled into 4th place right behind Tiburon's Matthew Davies, who got an awesome shout out from a dog along the way (he really wanted to join!). We zigged through the historic buildings of the Presidio and began the downhill plunge towards the Golden Gate bridge, as Leon and a neon-shirted Erik Jones continued to pull away from us (mile 3).
(Tackling the hills)
(Weaving through the historic Presidio buildings...oh, crap...my headband is on twisted!)
(Sarah Hallas grinds up the hills)
(Simple out and back to that island over there!)
(Runners are stoked for the hills!)
The GG bridge is majestic and beautiful, but I'll tell ya, it's a tricky for a fast run! The climb up is enough to get your arms pumping and it goes on FOH-EVAH, and the fog-coated manholes are slick enough to force you to weave back and forth. The day was amazing though, and it was hard not to stare over the calm of the Bay as we turned around and headed back on the ocean side of the bridge (mile 6). I passed up Matthew who was all smiles, and we both waved to the hundreds of runners filling the bridge on the opposite side, as well as the many honking cars giving their support.

(Here we go!)
(Matthew gettin' it done)
(Couldn't ask for a better day on the GG Bridge)
(Thumbs up!)
(Your speed is 11 mph...yeah!)
(Hundreds of runners enjoy the GG Bridge on a sunny day)
We worked our way down to the shore again, and I could see that Leon was cruising at this point with a solid 40-second lead over Erik, but Erik was still moving fast. I could also see some folks gaining ground behind me, in particular Doug Howard and Ryan Steer working together to move up through the ranks, so I picked it up to a 5:50 min/mile to try and keep them at bay. Hmm, looks like the legs still have some punch! The Women's race looked pretty tight, with Michelle charging hard just 15 seconds ahead of Sarah and Verity.
(Leon in great form)
(Time to go fast!)
I bombed down the shoreline trail and crossed the finish line in 1:00:34, feeling solid, and good enough for 3rd overall and the Masters win (same as last year!). Not my fastest here, but still pretty quick! Leon had won again (58:44), with Erik taking second (59:04), while Michelle won the Women's title (1:03:41), and Sarah (1:04:20) and Verity (1:04:32, Masters winner) filled out the podium. Matthew Davies got 5th, crossing the finish with the dog who had cheered him on! I'm sure his mutt appreciated him losing a few seconds to share that moment. ;-) [all results]

(At the finish, photo courtesy of some photo service I'm not paying)
(Michelle Meyers and Verity Breen, 1st and 3rd today)
(Winner Leon Medina and I trying to convince Sarah to do the whole Big Sur Marathon this weekend)
We had beer and bloody mary's (The Guardsmen never disappoint!) with our pancakes, while a blues band rocked the finish line. We got some pictures with the Guard Dog, the new mascot, and cheered in the waves of 10k runners. My sister-in-law, Jennifer Drue, had a great 10-miler with her friend, and I found out one of my Woodside friends was good friends with a Stanford classmate as well. See? We're all connected. It was great to talk with some of The Guardsmen too, and hear about how this race continues to raise funds to help at-risk kids and get them into outdoor programs. That would explain all the young smiling faces at the aid stations! All in all, it felt like we did some good for the universe today.
(The Guard Dog gets some love from the ladies...two paws up!)
(Lucy introduces herself as I nap on the grass)
I let the sun burn into my skin a bit to capture this day and these welcome moments of calm and clarity. I'm back home, back with "my people", grounded once more. It all feels fresh and new again. Thank you Guardsmen and your amazing volunteers for that, and congrats on another successful Presidio 10! I will see you again next year, my friends.

- SD


  1. HAH, I think I did the same thing at a job interview once. Possible there are some other things going on there...

  2. Taking selfies while averaging 6:03 miles... I am in awe, sir!

    1. I don't know why, but I always run faster with a camera. Selfies rule!

    2. I am impressed with the photos while running at a blazing pace too!

  3. Great report Scott, as always -- especially the paragraph on your emotional state.
    Your photos are even better than usual -- I love the fisheye effect. Can you pls. tell me what kind of camera you use?

    1. Sarah - you are one of my favorite writers, so your kudos mean a lot! Thanks.

      The camera is the GOPro3, which I've been experimenting with. Wicked light, but battery doesn't last long. The fish eye lense is standard (helps with 16:9 orientation) and the video is impressive. Still getting the hang of it.

  4. Yes, that interview topped your report, although I agree, at this speed snapping button on the camera and not dropping said camera is impressive for sure.

  5. Great post Scott
    You are getting too fast! Love the humor in your job interview, doesn't everybody say that stuff when interviewing?
    Go get 'em at Big Sur.

    1. Thanks, Bob! Our interview answers may help explain our jagged career paths. But honestly, who's having more fun? :-)

      Next year, want to see you at Boston/Big Sur...you guys would love it!

  6. Love your blog, Scott! Keep it up!

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